Agromere may be new, but agriculture in the city is not. Before the Industrial Revolution, the farmer had a place in the city and everyday life - for the production of food as well as managing various activities. During the process of industrialisation, the city and agriculture became separated from each other as a result of the rapid growth of cities. The farmer was forced to retreat to “his own territory” and other forms of working and living became concentrated inside the city.
Back to the future
Over the coming decades, the agricultural sector in the Netherlands is expected to perhaps give up another 150,000 to 300,000 ha of land, whereby the distance between food production and consumption will become even greater. The time has therefore come for a more contemporary interpretation of the role of the farmer within the framework of urban life.
Urban agriculture, a trend
Outside the Netherlands – in Third-world cities as well as in Western cities such as Tokyo and London – the production of food within urban environments is fairly common. Urban agriculture is also starting to gain ground in the Netherlands. With neighbourhood gardens in Amsterdam, fruit trees in the streets of Groningen, restaurants and institutions cooking with local products, the neighbourhood in Culemborg with its own farmer, and commercial farms on the outskirts of Amsterdam and Almere, urban agriculture is becoming more common in our country. Wageningen UR is closely involved with a number of initiatives
Initiatives from the agricultural sector
The agricultural sector itself has been making investments for some time now in building contacts with citizens/consumers. Recreational opportunities, childcare centre's, therapeutic farms, and landscape centre's are just some examples of how the agricultural sector demonstrates the diversity and added value of country life to urban residents. At the websites waardewerken and multifunctionelelandbouw good examples can be seen of the varied options offered by the agricultural sector.
Agriculture in the city literally provides green energy, which is viewed as a positive factor by the entrepreneur as well as surrounding residents. By involving residents in the operational aspects of farm life, the production of food becomes more transparent. People obtain insight into where it comes from, what is needed for the entire process, and what exactly the farmer does to manage the process. Agricultural activities in the city inject extra life and spirit and add to the quality of life in the surrounding area.
All the parties concerned enjoy benefits from their mutual cooperation. The entrepreneur can take advantage of the demand for rest and relaxation, open space, and nature by offering opportunities for recreational activities, child day care and therapeutic care. The farmer, in turn, can contribute to the sustainability of the city by producing bio energy and recycling urban waste. Finally, urban residents can experience, close to home, the rhythm of the seasons, the taste of local products and the added value of agricultural activities nearby. If the agricultural sector becomes involved in urban expansion projects such as Agromere, new business opportunities and cooperative frameworks are the result.
City of the future
At present, 50% of the planet’s population already lives in cities, and this percentage will only increase further. Urban agriculture is a solution to the issue of how we can, in future, offer these urban residents sufficient food, green open spaces, rest and relaxation without further increasing the global urban footprint. In the city of the future, community gardens and vegetable plots, as well as large-scale professional enterprises in and around the city, will contribute to sustainable urban agriculture and the quality of life of farmers and other residents.